Readers' Poll

96 BEST OF MONTEREY COUNTY® 2023 Best Restaurant-Carmel Little Napoli Dolores and 7th, Carmel (831) 626-6335, In a town defined by classy restaurants, it’s not easy to stand out from the competition. Little Napoli does, however, due to its old-school ambiance—one can almost see John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts huddled over plates of spaghetti—and its elevated take on Italian. Even the appetizers shine with their garlic bread good enough to serve as a meal. But don’t fill up on bread and run the risk of missing out on dishes like the white truffle pizza pie, lamb osso buco, or some of their homemade ravioli. Hint: The burger is pretty good, too. Best Restaurant - Carmel Valley Cafe Rustica 10 Del Fino Place, Carmel Valley (831) 659-4444, At one point in Once There Was A War, the characters Lorraine, Capellini and Flammekueche are fussing with dynamite and…gotcha! Those aren’t Steinbeck characters, they are gourmet pizzas and a pasta dish at Cafe Rustica, where all the intrigue and drama that make for good storytelling are confined to the plate. Dynamite has no fuse, but it does include fennel sausage, Black Forest ham and pepperoni. Flammekueche is an Alsatian-style pie. They do a lot more than pizza and pasta at this popular venue—and they do it all well. Best Restaurant - Marina Salt Wood Kitchen & Oysterette 3295 Dunes Drive, Marina (831) 883-5535, Say one of your group wants to sit outside in the dunes, sipping Champagne and slurping raw oysters. Unfortunately, another is adamant about local seafood, while a third craves steak from a wood-fired grill in an elegant setting. And then what if you would like to attend a pig roast, but there’s a vote that the group just get started early, before the crowds come. Impossible, you say? Hardly. Salt Wood Kitchen can satisfy all of that, and more. Best Wine List Best Sommelier - Stephen Caldwell Best Restaurant - Monterey Sardine Factory 701 Wave St., Monterey (831) 373-3775, The wine list at Sardine Factory starts with a Table of Contents. In that, it’s like reading a novel—the chapters on Loire Valley and the one on Graves, restaurants Best Appetizers/Small Plates, Best Restaurant For Gluten-Free, Best Server - Daniel Niland | Hula's Island Grill